Officials offer advice on staying warm and safe ahead of frigid weather

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) -The first day of winter comes just one day after Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency, ahead of this week’s incoming deep freeze.

Eastern Carolina is expected to see some of the coldest weather on Christmas Eve and day in nearly two decades.

Greenville Fire/Rescue Chief Carson Sanders hopes everyone gets a head start on preparing for its arrival.

“Frostbite can occur as quickly as eight minutes,” Sanders said, “So if you do go out and have exposed skin, you need to make sure that you’re warming that up immediately.”

When you heat up your home during the cold stretch, it’s the way you do it, that can prevent a fire from igniting.

“Obviously no propane or gas heaters inside. Those need to be well-ventilated,” Sanders said.

If you use an electrical heater, you’re advised to make sure it has plenty of space around it. Another notable fire starter is ovens.

“Don’t use your oven to warm the house. Every time there’s this really cold weather, they (residents) get really inventive about how they do it,” Sanders said.

If you don’t have a place to shelter yourself there are other options, such as the Community Crossroads Center.

Executive Director Charles Young, says the center be open 24 hours for several days.

“We’re open Friday afternoon at 6 o’clock until Wednesday morning at 8 o’clock and to celebrate Christmas as well,” Young said.

Young goes on to say that meals will also be provided on Christmas.